Measurement and Control Strategies for Sterol Glucosides to Improve Biodiesel Quality
One of the most challenging problems for biodiesel utilization in transportation is fuel filter plugging due to low fuel quality. The biodiesel industry has been successful in eliminating most quality issues by enforcing high standards. However, one cause of fuel quality problems that is not controlled by existing specifications and that remains poorly understood is the presence of plant sterols and their derivatives in biodiesel. Plant sterols are natural steroids. Some of their derivatives are insoluble in biodiesel and serve as nuclei for other impurities to form crystalline complexes which lead to filter plugging. One type of compound that is believed to be the primary source of fuel filtering plugging is sterol glucosides.
There is little information available for determining the extent of the sterol glucosides problem. One obstacle is the lack of capability to measure these compounds in the industry and research community. There are also very limited resources for how to deal with the problem and to provide possible solutions. To address this important issue, we intend to develop the capability to detect and measure sterol glucosides and other major compounds in biodiesel and to determine the effect of processing on removing such chemicals to improve fuel quality.